It is nice to 'find' something as special as this.
The Tonto Natural Bridge is believed to be the largest travertine bridge in the world!!! I had never been to this State Park! The bridge is 183 feet high and has a tunnel that is over 400 feet long. The Park is located about 10 or so miles north of Payson on Highway 260. You can get more information on the web but be aware that there is a lot of comment about the road. Ignore it. The road does have a steep 14% incline in a small portion and there are some mountain curves. But . . . this is a paved 2 lane road with guardrails and it leads to wonderment. Just take it in slowly and you will shake your head wondering what all the fuss is about on the web!
I put more photos of the parking area than usual just to show how easy this place is to visit. There were just a few people there last Wednesday and we were told at the Visitors Center that it can be crowded on the weekends and holidays. I bet!
Within a hundred or so feet from the most southern parking area you can walk to an observation deck and look down on the Bridge. Along the way you might notice a narrow ditch with running water. Hmmm. . . . When you get to the observation deck you will see why.
There are a number of trails and several paved paths in the Park. We opted to take the Gowan Trail which leads down to the bottom of the creek. We were told that you can hike from the northern side and go under the Bridge but you should be prepared to 'boulder hop' and likely get wet. I am all for that until I consider the cost of my gear! The Gowan Trail is listed as moderately strenuous but it is doable by this ol' girl so consider that. There are steps built into the dirt trail and some of them are high enough to make you feel like you are really pulling yourself up. They have thoughtfully put two benches in the shade for adventurous souls who decide they are going to rest along the way. You are treated to creek water sounds the whole way down and a view that is pretty doggone nice.
We hoped to catch some golden hour shots near the Ballantyne Trailhead on our way back to Phoenix. We had taken some photos on the way to Payson and now have a few more taken on the way back to share as well. Unfortunately, I managed to lose all of my shots taken up and back by not importing them properly!! Tom's are more than up to the task of sharing what the whole trip looked like.
There you have it! We hope that, if you have not checked out this Park, you consider doing so. It is about 110 miles north of Phoenix. An easy drive. Time it so you can stop and get some golden hour shooting in on the way home! Thanks for sharing.